Accident Guide in Louisiana
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According to the National Safety Council, one in eight drivers will be involved in an auto accident this year. Therefore, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections encourages drivers to develop a clear understanding of what to do after they have been in an accident.
If you are involved in an accident while driving on Louisiana roads, you must stop as close to the scene as possible. It is against the law to leave the scene of an accident. You must stop your vehicle even if the accident does not appear to be serious. If you don't, you are considered a hit-and-run driver, and you could be fined or sent to jail.
According to Louisiana's "Move It, Move It, Move It―Steer It Clear" campaign, it is your responsibility to remove vehicles from the roadway to the nearest soft shoulder. After an accident, pull your vehicle into an area that won't cause additional disruption for other drivers, and turn off the ignition. Have someone warn approaching drivers of the accident, if necessary, to prevent further damage and reduce traffic congestion.
If drivers, passengers, or bystanders have been injured in the accident, call for an ambulance immediately. Do not attempt to move an injured person or perform first aid if you have not been properly trained. You may accidentally aggravate an injury.
After reporting the accident to the nearest law enforcement agency, provide all drivers involved in the accident with your name, address, and vehicle registration number. You should also show the other drivers your license if requested. If the accident caused damage to an unattended vehicle or property, leave your name and contact information in a visible location so the owner can reach you later.
If an accident appears to be relatively minor, you may find yourself wondering whether it's worth reporting to your insurance company. However, it's a good idea to report all accidents. Even if there is minimal property damage and no obvious injuries, additional expenses may come up later.
To help your insurance company file an accurate claim, sketch a quick diagram of vehicle positions before and after the accident. If you have access to a digital camera or camera phone, take a few photos to document injuries or property damage. You may also want to ask any witnesses for their names and contact information in case your insurance company needs their formal statements.
If you are later found to have contributed to the accident, your insurance company may raise your monthly premiums. However, there are laws that protect you from having your insurance rates raised if the accident was not your fault.
A Louisiana resident who is in an accident found to be caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist may wish to seek the services of an experienced personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney may be able to help you receive compensation for medical expenses and property repairs that occurred as the result of the accident. Most personal injury attorneys will work on a contingency basis, so you won't need to provide any payment until you reach a settlement.
After the police officer in charge of investigating your accident prepares his or her report, the data will be entered into the Louisiana State University Highway Safety Research Group database. No identifying data is provided, but visitors to the site will be able to learn more about the safety of the state's roads by viewing the circumstances surrounding your accident.
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